V-Carving uses a V-shaped bit, or v-bit, which varies the cut in width and depth based on the vector design. V-bits are sometimes also called V-Groove bits. If the vectors are narrow, the tiny tip of the bit keeps the v-groove narrow and shallow. If the vectors are further apart, the broader part of the bit deepens and widens the v-groove.

Why Use V-Carving?

The tapered sides of the carve create a unique look, showing off the wood grains. Wider carves reveal deeper grains, and the interaction between width and depth happens continually based on the curves of the vector.

This method of wood carving makes v-carving an excellent choice for signs. Wood signs can have many different kinds of fonts. In addition, different fonts have different letter widths and curves. So a v-bit handles these size variations easily without changing CNC bits.

I import a vector design into the Vectric Aspire CNC software in the example below. In addition, their software includes a toolpath simulator to preview the finished v-groove itself. This simulator will let us see the results of the v-carve design.

A good software simulator result is needed to get an excellent v-groove on your CNC wood machine. But the software side of CNC machining is only half the work.

The simulator result can be different than the CNC wood machined product. This difference is because many more machining variables can cause poor effects.

Every CNC machine is different, and some are more rigid than others. Likewise, every piece of wood has different hardness; some woods warp more than others. But all these different variables make CNC wood machining an excellent hobby for many people.

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Examples of V-Carving

The sign design below shows an example of vectors with varying widths. You can find this design at This Girl Loves Fishing With Her Husband.

This Girl Loves Fishing With Her Husband V-Carve Sign

To use the software simulator, I created a V-Carve toolpath. I typically use a 60-degree v-bit. But v-bits come in all different angles ranging from 15 to 150 degrees. Some of the smaller angled bits are called engraving bits. The most popular size are 30, 45, 60, and 90-degree v-bits.
It's hard to see the finished toolpath simulation result from a computer screen, but the result is below. I've angled it so it's easier to see the v-grooves.
Some of the broader parts of the design were the little fish. They almost look like holes in the wood.

V-Carve Toolpath Simulation Result

V-Groove Flat Depth

There are limits to how wide your vectors can be using the V-Carve toolpath. What happens depends on the angle of your v-bit, but at some point, it will carve through your material.

Using the image below as an example, I used a 60-degree v-bit starting with vectors .5-inches apart. I then increased the width by a .25-inch until it cut through the 1-inch material. This hole through the material bottom happens with a width of 1.25 inches.

At this point, you have two options. You can either use a 90-degree v-bit, which, as you can see, widens the v-groove. Or you can set a flat-depth option. In our example, we would want the flat depth to be .75-inches.

60-degree v-bit with Flat-depth

The Vectric CNC software has an option in the V-Carve toolpath to enable and set the flat-depth option.

When using the flat-depth option, selecting a clearance tool is also best. The v-bit has to do all of the carvings without a clearance tool. A flat bottom is a very inefficient usage of a v-bit. as the point is tiny.

If you include an endmill bit for the clearance tool, then you can see in the image, the second one below, that it will clear the flat bottom very efficiently.

Flat Depth Option Without a Clearance too
Vectric VCarve Flat Depth
V-Carve Toolpath Flat-Depth Option

I prefer to use the flat-depth option only if I plan to fill it with epoxy. Then using flat-depth makes a lot of sense.

What kind of V-Grooves your toolpath creates all depends on your vector design. In the plan below, you have very narrow vectors. The result is a drawing that appears drawn with a thick marker.

Rose SVG Vectors
Rose V-Carve Simulator Result

How deep you go with your v-groove also depends on the effect you want your design to have.

The design below, on the left, has some very wide-open vectors. But I like the effect it has on the resulting image on the right.

Seek Logo Cruzan Logo EPS Vector
Cruzan Rum Brand Toolpath Simulator Result

I selected all the vectors and calculated a V-Carve toolpath in all the examples I've shown. You do have a choice to choose only specific vectors for a toolpath. So you can use particular vectors for a 60-degree toolpath and others for a 90-degree toolpath.

There are nearly unlimited ways to combine design vectors with CNC wood machine toolpaths. It's an exciting hobby, and many people also make an excellent living.

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